Christmas day is just around the corner. Turkeys are flying off the shelf, wine bottles are starting to stack up and dinner decorations are being gathered across the nation, all leading up to everyone’s most loved meal of the year – Christmas dinner. But getting a meal perfect can be quite a stressful endeavour, whether cooking the meal alone or bringing a dish to share with others. So we’ve gathered 12 of the best Christmas cooking cheats to help take the stress out of cooking and to ensure your meal is delicious.
There’s no recipe book in the world that isn’t affected by the sticky finger corners. For years recipe books have been getting stickier and stickier, but these days iPhones get sticky! Instead why not try photocopying or taking a picture of your recipe book, print it and tape it to your kitchen cabinet. That way you’ll always be able to read it without getting flour and sauce on your books, mobiles or tablets.
If you’re worrying about having enough ice for your drinks and to keep bottles of bubbly cool, then use a silicone baking tray to set water. This will create big ice blocks that are easily loosened and can be used in ice buckets while normal ice blocks can be used for drinks.
Boil or bake your potatoes with the skin on. Once they’re ready, remove them and put them in a glass bowl with a towel over the top. The condensation will help make peeling the skins really easy with no need for old fashioned potato peelers.
If you’re hoping to make a pie this festive season, ensuring your butter stays cool while making a short crust pastry can be easily achieved if grated into the flour. Grating the butter for puff pastry will also help with merging the two.
If you’re cooking fish this Christmas, add a tea-spoon of custard powder to the floury batter. This will ensure your fish comes out beautifully golden without affecting the taste.
It’s often difficult to get depth of flavour in gravy. Reduce 100ml of wine and the drippings from your meat trays to add extra depth of flavour. Either pour the wine in the baking tray to glaze the caramelised meat bits or reduce in a separate pan. A teaspoon of original French mustard can also make all the difference.
Often roasted potatoes don’t come out golden and crispy like they do on television. To ensure you get golden crispy edges, shake them in the colander once boiled. This will create scuffed edges which will golden up beautifully once fried.
If you’re including a terrine for Christmas lunch, ensure to plastic wrap the dish before layering your meats. Too often cooks forget this detail which makes removing the terrine from the dish really difficult. Place plastic wrap in the dish with extra length. This way you will be able to wrap the terrine over the top and keep it all together when compressing it. Flipping it to serve on a platter will be made easy.
Often cooks rush to their herb pots with carving knives to slice off some herbs, but before you put your fingers at risk, use scissors instead. It’s faster and safer and you will enjoy having all your fingers intact for Christmas lunch.
Whether you’re making bread and butter pudding, bread sauce, melba toast or bread and butter for the table, slicing up fresh bread can be a bit tricky. For even, fine slices, turn the bread upside down and cut from the bottom. This will stop the bread getting squashed and out of shape.
For the smoothest purees, blend your vegetables while they are still hot. This will allow them to break down more easily. Avoid over cooking them in order to make them soft, this will also cause them to lose flavour.
If you have a dishwasher, ensure that the dishes are unloaded and tidied away before your guests arrive. This way you will be able to immediately place any dirty dishes into the machine as the day goes on and won’t have to rush to unload it, while guests are visiting.
So before all the chocolates are being eaten and the official celebrations begin, keep these tricks in mind in order to help your meal preparations go smoothly.